TV series review: SurrealEstate

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No way you could sell me this pile of boards and ghosts! jackson simmer via unsplash

Canadian SyFy series brings heart and spooks, just in time for Hallowe’en!

SyFy’s latest show, SurrealEstate, just had its first season come to a close. The show follows the Roman Agency, a real estate firm who specializes in haunted houses. It’s filmed in Newfoundland and Labrador and produced by BlueIce Pictures, a Canadian production company.

Four out of ten of the episodes are directed by Danishka Esterhazy, who is an executive producer on the show and is best known for directing the 2019 film The Banana Splits Movie. Esterhazy’s light whimsy while still providing some decent scares really come through in her episodes.

This review is spoiler free for those who may be interested in learning what it takes to sell a house with some supernatural squatters.

SurrealEstate stars, Tim Rozon and Sarah Levy, play in the lead roles as Luke Roman and Susan Ireland. Rozon is fresh off his role as Doc Holliday in Wynonna Earp, and viewers will recognize Levy as Twila in Schitt’s Creek.

Rozon’s Luke Roman is an interesting character. He’s able to talk to the ghosts and communicate with them in ways no one else can. But, even more than that, he genuinely cares about the families and the people he’s selling houses to. What’s even more surprising is how much he cares for the ghosts. Unless they’re explicitly violent, he just wants to help lost spirits move on. All of this tied up with his mysterious backstory makes him a morally interesting character. He easily could’ve become a very different man, choosing to isolate himself to avoid the spirits haunting him. But instead he helps people, dead or alive, making him a likeable character for the audience.

While Luke is pro at ghost hunting, Susan Ireland is a pro at selling houses – but there’s not much else to her. She’s a workaholic and struggles to get along with the rest of the team at times. Her belief in the supernatural stutters from episode to episode. The most redeemable thing about Susan is Levy in the role. Without Levy’s optimism, Susan would’ve been less likeable.

There are three additional team members at the Roman Agency: Maurice Dean Whit as August, the man who makes all ghost hunting tools; Savannah Basley as Zooey, the sassy office manager; and Adam Korson as Father Phil, an ex-priest in charge of the research. These characters are all interesting and fun, but they get less screen time compared to Susan and Luke. August is a less prominent character, but Whit’s performance makes him incredible. Basley brings a lot of vulnerability to Zooey, which makes her feel like a more well-rounded character. Korson’s performance is similar – he plays with a lot of wit and humour – but in the episode that explores Phil’s backstory more, you get some real heart-wrenching moments from the former priest. The ensemble also brings in queer representation with Zooey as a proud bisexual, and Father Phil and his husband that he’s trying to start a family with.

SurrealEstate is an episodic series. Each episode focuses on two houses: one that can only be solved by Luke with his unique abilities to communicate with the spirit, and one that gets solved by Susan with her phenomenal real estate skills. Sometimes this makes the spooky storyline a little less scary, being brought back into the normal. Sometimes it works, and the episode flows really well. Overall, the show has a lot of hit and miss moments – but the ghost portions are fantastic! Each haunted house explores an overarching theme, like family, loneliness, or revenge. The theme of the episode particularly affects Luke, since he’s often the one left with the ghost at the end.

Sure, there’s an ongoing storyline, but it’s not as interesting. And not every episode tells you anything about the outside plot, which mostly focuses on Luke and his past. It’s inconsistent – but honestly? I don’t care.

At the end of the day, SurrealEstate is a fun show with a fun cast about selling haunted houses. I’m generally not a fan of horror media that focuses on ghosts and demons, but I loved SurrealEstate. The scares were never anything too intense, but just enough to remind you what kind of show you’re watching. It tackles its darker themes well, but doesn’t make you feel so sad that you don’t want to keep watching.

A strong cast and lighthearted horror made the first season of SurrealEstate one of my favourite shows this year, and I’ve already put an offer in to watch this show again and again.

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